Tu b’Shevat events in Gush Etzion began already on Saturday night in Oz veGaon where a Seder Tu B’Shvat was held attended by Gush Etzion Council Head Shlomo Ne’eman, and Rav Yosef Tzvi Rimon, in partnership with KKL-JNF and about a hundred residents of the area.
Today, Wednesday, Tu B’Shvat, members of the Im Tirzu movement are coming to Oz veGaon for Tu b’Shvat events.The Tu B’Shvat event on Motsaei Shabbat opened with words of welcome by Yehudit Katsover, one of the heads of Women in Green, who mentioned that the custom of planting trees was rooted in 1908, by the late Zeev Yaavetz, and the custom continued throughout the years, led by the Keren Kayemet leIsrael-Jewish National Fund as a symbol of the Jewish People’s settlement and rooting in its Land.
The event, which was conducted as a Tu b’Shevat seder, and in honor of the State of Israel’s 70th year, was led by Yaron Miara, who mentioned the beginning of the custom of holding a Tu b’Shevat seder as far back as the days of the Ari Hakadosh and his students. Shamai Keinan, a member of the KKL-JNF Board of Directors, was one of the speakers, and he spoke of the role of the KKL-JNF over the decades of redeeming the land of the Land of Israel. Keinan stated that the KKL-Jewish National Fund is committed to Oz veGaon and to Gush Etzion.
The head of the Gush Etzion Council Shlomo Neeman welcomed the KKL-JNF’s activism in preserving national lands in the past and the future. “We encourage the KKL-JNF in Oz veGaon to continue its role and to strengthen its role in preserving the national lands”.
Rav Yosef Tzvi Rimon blessed the participants at the event and hoped that they would have the privilege of planting trees and holding onto the Land of Israel, and mentioned the importance of the agricultural battle, since places that have not been planted by Jews have been seized more than once by foreigners. Regarding this subject, he praised Women in Green’s struggles to hold onto land agriculturally and by planting olive trees in various agricultural areas, acts that led to a permanent Israeli presence in several areas of Gush Etzion.
The event ended with a short talk by Yaron Rosenthal, principal of Gush Etzion Field School, about the unique agriculture of Gush Etzion. Rosenthal said that it is difficult for trees to survive in Gush Etzion for various reasons, but that it is possible to overcome these difficulties with afforestation by the KKL-JNF and residents as well as by initiating punishment for those who cut down trees for heating, a punishment which does not exist today.
Women in Green views the Tu b’Shevat events as another layer connecting the People of Israel to its Land. The movement’s heads, Yehudit Katsover and Nadia Matar, say that along with the movement’s activities in promoting the vision of Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria, they will continue their activities in practical holdings of the lands as has been accomplished in a number of locations, including Netzer, Eitam, Adorayim and the Oz veGaon preserve itself.
Link to a video of the Seder Tu b’Shvat https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uU3cx7Tj84I
Today, Wednesday, Tu B’Shvat, activists of the Im Tirtzu movement will arrive at Oz veGaon for a day of volunteerism. The activity is held in memory of Kobi Bernstein z”l, a member of Im Tirtzu who was killed in the summer of 2015 in a car accident. The “Women in Green” movement, which rehabilitated and operates the Oz veGaon reserve as a voluntary educational site based on the values of love and connection to the Land, welcome and say: “The Im Tirtzu activists who give their soul in the hasbara struggle for our right to the Land of Israel are true partners in the way that leads to a firm hold on the Land of Israel, the deepening of our roots in it, and the application of our sovereignty over all its expanses. We would like to warmly welcome the members of Im Tirtzu for their selection in the Oz and Gaon reserve as the site of the movement’s Tu Bishvat events. Together with them we will continue to develop and strengthen the reserve that we restored in memory of the three youths Gil-Ad, Eyal and Naftali hy”d who were kidnapped and murdered and continues to express the unity of the people and its revival from grief and mourning to building, prosperity and growth. “